Guy Miles was elated when he finally walked free after spending 18 years behind bars for a crime he always maintained he did not commit.
The 50-year-old grandfather was released from an Orange County, Calif., prison Tuesday after being found guilty for a 1998 bank robbery, despite having insisted he was innocent during his entire stay in the facility.
“I just want to get home to my mother and hug my mother,” he told reporters as he left the prison. “Yes, get home to my mother and see my kids.”
As he took his first steps into freedom, he sported a shirt that read “XONR8."
Miles was convicted and sentenced to 75 years to life in prison despite having an alibi.
According to the California Innocence Project, which has been helping him gain freedom for the last 15 years, six people had testified that Miles was living in Las Vegas during the robbery in Fullerton, California.
Three perpetrators later confessed to the crime.
His lawyers argued his conviction was a case of mistaken identity. According to a study by the California Innocence Project, one in four eyewitness identifications are incorrect, even though that was the main evidence Miles’ case relied on at the time.
An appellate court overturned Miles’ conviction in January after determining there was evidence of misconduct by an Orange County prosecutor.
Miles' lawyers said he was ultimately freed on an Alford plea, a guilty plea whereby he did not admit nor deny involvement in the crime. In exchange, he was allowed to walk free hours later.
According to the Orange County Register, the district attorney’s office later wrote in a statement: “This is not a story of an innocent man who got his freedom but one of a guilty man who finally accepted responsibility but was granted some mercy.”